bryson-tiller-trap-soul-coverBryson Tiller, T R A P S O U L
2015; RCA Records

Where R&B music is now as compared to the past is up for debate. Traditional, big-voice vocalists are getting shuttered into creating pop music, those we’ve considered R&B singers are more in the vein of rappers who angle for sex and employ emptiness rather than love. The confusion of it is that R&B, like its much more machismo driven younger cousin hip-hop, can be many things. At most, it’s a conversation about mood and emotion and delivered as such. That’s why you hear Louisville, KY singer Bryson Tiller and see why people like Timbaland & Drake have cosigned him. Why you immediately latch on to his “Don’t” single and realize that he marries rap & R&B in a form of stream of consciousness. If Fetty Wap builds towards joyful noise singing and PARTYNEXTDOOR sings inside of a vapid, smoke thick bubble then Tiller meets them somewhere in the middle on his T R A P S O U L debut.

Tiller’s voice isn’t a gripping instrument. It pops at times and seems unsure of what it could possibly be in others, often playing with different melodies to switch it up. In some spots such as the snare skittering “The Sequence”, he’s authoritative and yearning. In others, like on “Ten Nine Fourteen”, a date that coincides with when Tiller re-released “Don’t” on Soundcloud, he’s in full insolent rap mode. “I know I fucked up one too many times,” he sings on “The Sequence”. “I know there’s somebody as real as me, someone as sincere as me/That’s what I’m afraid of, don’t you dare give him the same love.” Realizing faults and assurance is the crux of what T R A P S O U L aspires to be. He completely runs away from small verses and instead goes for full sixteens, which throws him into a space where he looks like a number of people, almost non-descript. Being clever at times is what separates Tiller a bit from that particular pack though. “Don’t,” a song Tiller was unsure about at first plays like a group conversation, with him telling everybody within earshot about a girl he digs. When her friends standing right there and him toying with Mariah Carey’s “Shake It Off” melody.

If there’s one moment where Tiller conforms to what R&B may be, it’s on “The Exchange”, a track Tiller confirms is his favorite song. The Mekanics almost drown out the K.P and Envyi’s “Swing My Way” sample with a bevy of bass line and snares but T R A P S O U L finds its niche here. It follows the manuscript of a traditional R&B record, short verses, clearly defined chorus and Tiller positioning himself as a man who isn’t too proud to want a woman for sex. That’s been the modern give and take of singers now anyway. If love can’t necessarily be found, find physical solutions until you do.

T R A P S O U L lives up to what it wants to be, a creation by a twenty-something influenced by the world around him. Bryson Tiller knows how to create music to fit a moment, however lasting or fleeting that moment may be. As long as he and those like him love blurring the line of what R&B is at the moment then you get rap albums like this dressed up in the gloss and attitude of modern male R&B singers. As soon as R&B records started blending in more and more with hip-hop ones, it gives birth to records like T R A P S O U L. Tailor made for late nights and impending arrival on a larger stage.